Feb 15 2024

Book Short: Less is More

Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less, by Leidy Klotz is a great read, and in concert with the philosophy of the book, this will be a short blog post.

The book’s basic premise is that less is more, addition by subtraction. The author’s examples range from the genius of the Strider Bike (bike without pedals) that allows 2-year olds to ride bikes to the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Many people don’t remember that that road used to be called the Embarcaro Freeway, a massive, ugly, two-tiered structure that blocked out the views and waterfront, and that the opportunity to tear down the whole thing following the massive 189 earthquake left San Francisco with a much simpler, beautiful, liveable waterfront by the Ferry Terminal.

There are many great takeaways in the book as well as an action plan for how to think about subtracting AND adding, not just adding, which is the normal reflex for humans, and I’d add ESPECIALLY for entrepreneurs!

We put these principles into action a couple weeks ago at Bolster. When we were crafting our 2024 plan, we worked methodically as a leadership team to reduce. We cut out words, but we also cut out topics and strategic initiatives. The end product was less than 50% the size (word for word) of the 2023 plan, and I think it’s much crisper, more memorable, and more actionable for our team than last year’s.

Hopefully over time, we will find more occasions to do less.

I’ll close with two of my favorite quotes, both of which were in the book. One is by Mark Twain, which is “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” The other is by Lao Tzu, which is “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, subtract things every day.”

Sometimes less takes more time. But it’s almost always more valuable.